Only the Jews Can Fix Up the Land of Israel

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Parsha Balak starts off with the words (Bamidbar 22:2) “And Balak the son of Tzipor saw all that Israel had done (asah) to the Emorite”.


Sfat Emet says that the word “asah” can mean to correct or to fix.


We see the root “asah”, to improve, other times in the Tanach as well.


One place that we see the root “asah” is in Ki Tetze (Devarim 21:11) in the story of “Eshet Yefat Toar”, a Beautiful Non Jewish Woman that the Jewish man desires from among the prisoners of war. The man is told to shave off her hair as well as “v’astah et tziporneah” she should pare her nails. According to Chizkuni, paring her nails is fixing them up, making a “tikkun”. According to Rabbi Eliezer (in Sifri) by cutting off her hair and fixing up her nails she is ridding herself of the Avoda Zara (idol worship) that she was brought up with and starting again.


Another place where “asah” is found is in Shmuel Bet 19:25 “And Mefiboshet the son of Shaul came down to meet the king, and he had neither dressed his feet (velo asah raglav) nor trimmed his beard (velo asah sfamo)…”


The Gemara in Yevamot 48a teaches us that “velo asah raglav” means that he did not cut his toenails, he did not groom himself.


Now that we know that “asah” means to fix, the question is how did B’nai Yisrael “fix” the Land of the Emorites? B’nai Yisrael fixed the land of Sichon and Og by conquering these lands and including them in the inheritance of the Land of Israel. It was a difficult land with a difficult king and a difficult state yet B’nai Yisrael were able to fix it.


Today, the students of Balak are still worried about the Jewish people “fixing up” the Land of Israel and are doing everything that they can to try to prevent it.